Ziba Mir-hosseini
Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, School of Oriental and African Studies Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H OXG, UK

Dr. Ziba Mir-Hosseini is a legal anthropologist, specializing in Islamic law, gender and development. She has a BA in Sociology from Tehran University (1974) and a PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Cambridge (1980). She is Professorial Research Associate at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, University of London. She has held numerous research fellowships and visiting professorships, including a Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004-5), and Hauser Global Law Visiting Professor at New York University (2002-8).

Dr. Mir-Hosseini is a founding member of Musawah Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family.

Her publications include Marriage on Trial: A Study of Islamic Family Law in Iran and Morocco (I. B. Tauris, 1993, 2002), Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran (Princeton University Press, 1999), (with Richard Tapper) Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform (I. B. Tauris, 2006), (with Vanja Hamzic) Control and Sexuality: the Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts (Women Living Under Muslim Laws, 2010), Men in charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition, edited with Mulki Al-Sharmani and Jana Rumminger (Oneworld, 2015). She has also directed (with Kim Longinotto) two award-winning feature-length documentary films on contemporary issues in Iran: Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001).

BA Honours
First Class, University of Tehran1974

Major: Social and Developmental Planning. Subsidiary Subjects: Statistics and Economics.

University of Cambridge,Faculty of Social and Political Sciences,Lucy Cavendish College1980

Thesis title: Changing Aspects of Economic and Family Structures in Kalardasht, a District of Northern Iran.

Hauser Visiting Global Law Professor
Global Law Program, Law School, New York University.2002-2019
Member of project group
New Directions in Islamic Thought Project, Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion and Belief.2002-Present
Professorial Research Associate
Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, SOAS, University of London2003-Present
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.2004-5
Member of Planning Committee
Musawah: Global Movement for Equality and Justice in Muslim Family.2007-Present
Member of project group
ew Approaches to Islamic Family Law, Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion and Belief.2007-Present
Salzburg Global Seminar
Faculty Member2008-Present
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
Council Member2008-10
Religion in Pluralistic Societies, Oslo.
Member of International Advisory Board2010-Present
Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF), Bielefeld research group Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights2020-2021
Major Awards
for Divorce Iranian Style.
BAFTA for Best Documentary1999

(with Kim Longinotto)

American Academy of Religion.
Martin E. Marty award for the Public Understanding of Religion2015


As a free-lance academic, when I am invited to teach I have the luxury of being able to offer courses on topics that are closely related to my own interests, that I am passionately involved in, and that want to study in greater depth myself. I have taught at anthropology, sociology and law departments in various countries; between 1990 and 1998 I contributed regularly to teaching in Cambridge, and since 2000 I have taught with colleagues in Law at SOAS. My most sustained period of teaching was at the Law School, New York University, where I was a Global Visiting Professor for a semester every other year between 2002 and 2008, designing and teaching three different courses. 

I have also helped design and teach a number of short training courses on ‘Islam from a Rights Perspective’, which are intended to enable women’s rights activists from different countries to understand Muslim legal tradition, not to be silenced by those who claim religious authority on questionable grounds, and to be able to challenge patriarchal and unjust interpretations from within the tradition. Currently, I am working closely with Musawah, developing and conducting further short courses to insert women’s voices and concerns into the process of law making, and to honour ‘women’s ways of knowing’.

Public Lectures and Keynotes
‘Islamic Law and Feminism: Opening a Dialogue’
Walter Edge Lecture, Princeton University2003, 6 March:
‘Islamic Law and Feminism: the Story of a Relationship’
SOAS,Noel Coulson Memorial Lecture2003, 2 December
‘Gender Equality in Islamic Law – New Prospects?’
Bukit Timah Campus Public Lecture Series, National University of Singapore, inaugural lecture2007, 20 September
‘Compulsion or Choice: The Politics and Theology of Muslim Women’s Covering.’
Public Lecture in series ‘Muslims in Europe’, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften2009, 27 April
Love, Rights, and Honor, Gender and Democracy in Iran’
Stanford University, California2012, 1 October
‘A Way out of the “Dead-end” of Feminism vs Islam: The Potential and Promise of Feminist Voices in Islam’
Barnard College, New York2012, 4 October
‘Rethinking the Construction of Male Authority in Muslim Family Laws’
Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, Dundee, Scotland2012, 16 October
‘Recovering Gender Equality in Islam: Conversations with Reformist thinkers’
British Society of Middle Eastern Studies Annual Lecture2020, 21 October
‘Islam and Feminism’
British Islam Conference, hosted by New Horizons in British Islam, Human Rights Action Centre, London.2018, 24 February
‘Are Men the Guardians of Women? The Unmaking of a Legal Fiction in Muslim Legal Tradition’
The Unthought in Islam: Gender Perspectives, University of Glasgow2017, 10 March
‘Feminist Voices in Islam: Rethinking Patriarchal Ethics’
Islamic Legal Studies, Law and Social Change and Human Rights Programs, Harvard University2017, 29 September
‘Feminist Approaches to Islam’
Dialogical lecture Series in the Context of the Jewish-Islamic Forum of the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, Jewish Museum Berlin.2016, 14 April
‘Muslim Women’s Struggle for Equality: Between Theology and Politics’
Middle East Studies, Maxwell School, Syracuse University2015, 17 March
‘Muslim Legal Tradition and the Challenge of Gender Equality’,
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter2015, 16 June


‘Interpreting Women’s Roles in the Qur’an’
Mansfield Lecture Series, Oxford2015, 1 May
‘Shared Aims and Common Grounds: International Human Rights Law and Muslim Legal Tradition’
Universality Lecture Series, House of Literature, Oslo2014, 5 October
‘Muslim Legal Tradition and the Challenge of Equality’
Liu Institute for Global Issues, Virani Lecture Series, University of British Columbia.2014, 17 September
‘On Understanding Shari‘a: The Challenge of Gender Equality’
keynote address as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Institute for Islamic Studies, McGill University2014, 8th August

Biennial meeting of the International Society for Iranian Studies.

‘Human Rights and Islamic Legal Tradition: Prospects for an Overlapping Consensus’
11th International Nuremberg Forum2013, 24-26 September
‘Justice, Equality and Muslim Family Laws: Challenges and Opportunities’
Muslim Women Challenges in the Middle East and Beyond, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo2013, 25-26 October